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As a newcomer to this marvelous and obviously addictive craft who has yet to make his first rod, I need some advice. (A lot of it, in fact)  I read an article, probably in an issue of The Planing Form that I can not relocate, that described a power beveling setup using a Wagner Safe-T-Planer and a drill press.

Has anyone used this approach, and if so, how did it work?  How would you say it compares to something like a Medved-style beveler?  As a hobbyist, not a production shop, does using some rig like this make sense, preserving my planing time for the final forms?  (Jim Rowley)

    Lee Koch, out of Nebraska, demonstrated a Safe-T-Planer/drill press beveler at the CCR.  It seemed to work fine for rough beveling.  Perhaps Lee will chime in on its longer term performance.  Maybe he can even post a pic of his guide jig set up.   I've been meaning to  build one,  but  haven't  found  a Safe-T-Planer locally.   I  know  you  can  get  them  from Stewart-MacDonald Luthier Supply.  Just have to make the jig with hold downs, etc.   It saves the expense of a router I suppose, if you already have a drill press, as I do.  (Rick Crenshaw)

    I have never seen or used the setup you describe, but it is hard to go wrong with a Medved style beveler. I now have roughing/tapering beveler, but still wish that I had one just for squaring strips.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    I'll try and send you on another path as a new builder.  Before you go through the motions of building or buying a machine to make your life easy, I recommend that you spend some time with a plane in your hand.  Unless you have carpel-tunnel or arthritis which may limit how long you can work, every minute you spend hand planing will develop the valuable skill needed for the final planing process.  Something finally clicked when I was finishing the strips on my fourth rod and I was able to produce accurate and consistent strips.  Maybe I'm a slow learner, but the only reason I built a Medved style beveler was for teaching a class because that was where we got bogged down occasionally so it was the second machine. If you're gonna be a hobbyist like me, the technique is important.  Getting "the feel" of it will minimize frustration later down the road  and will also add to the addiction.  (Brian Smith)

      Very well said Brian.  I think we all get too caught up in building the tools, though they are great, and forget to get the process down.  I actually enjoy rough planing by hand.  If you soak your strips and plane them wet, the process isn't all that difficult.  Plus, you can hog off a lot of material in a short time.  As you say, it helps to hone the skills that will come to play in later stages of the process.  After making a few rods the "old fashioned" way, then I'd suggest you start building some of the more advanced machines.

      Seems to me that I talked to someone, maybe Brian Creek, who said that Wayne Cattanach can actually produce roughed out strips by hand faster than you can produce them with a beveler.  I'd say that in an afternoon, you could get all the strips rough beveled for a 2/2 rod without any problem at all.  Unfortunately, I usually don't have a whole afternoon to work on rods, so when I get a half hour to 2 hours, I can hand plane and get more done than if I had to take the time to set up the beveler.  Plus, I can hand plane without disturbing the rest of the house! ;^) (Todd Talsma)

        As a new maker I don't really see the benefit of a beveler.  I've made about 10 rods in my first year and the time spent roughing was pretty minimal.  I don't use my roughing forms at all for tips and I have a big ole' bench plane that I use to hog the bugs.  I'd estimate that roughing a strip takes about 10 minutes maximum for me.   (Lee Orr)

      Brian has given you invaluable advice.  The only thing that machines can do for you is to enable you to work faster NOT better.  I still maintain that a rod built by traditional methods is by and large better than any machine produced artifact.  I am not condemning the use of machines in the process.  There are times that they are almost indispensable.  but you will do a better job hand planing.  (Ralph Moon)

        I agree that you MUST learn the manual techniques FIRST, but once learned, go for the machines if you're going to make more than a few rods.  All processes have problems.  If you don't understand the variables in manual techniques, you'll be a long time in doping out the problems with machines.  (Al Baldauski)

      I couldn't agree more.  One of the best things to do is split some bamboo put it in a rough form and get some time in with a plane in hand rather than spending too much time on the never ending search for the "perfect" tool  :)   (David Van Burgel)

        But David, there's something to be said about the "search for the perfect tool..."  ;-)   Especially for us tool junkies!  (Mark Wendt)

          A lot to be said for quiet of the hand plan, although it grates on my wife's nerves like finger nails on a blackboard.  The clean up after a session of hand planing is minimal, as the curls come off I dump the in the can under my makeshift bench (board spanning the washer and dryer),  then a quick sweep of the floor. Can 't imagine the mess a beveller might make.   (Pete Van Schaack)

            Not much, unless the vacuum port clogs up.  Don't ask how I know.  (Mark Wendt)

            I’ve got a shop in my basement that’s about 14’ x 22’ where I do almost all my work.  But even that doesn’t seem like enough space most of the time.  I’m constantly pushing one piece of equipment out of the  way to make room for another, including temporary benches of planks between horses.  And yes, a beveler kicks up a big mess.  But so does a lot of hand planing.  Seems I’m almost always wading thru 6” of bamboo curls.  My wife would shoot my sad A** if I tried anything in HER laundry room?  (Al Baldauski)

    I started making rods on forms then built all my own mills for finishing rods.  I still when making a new top for a client go back to hand planing I find it easier to get a mirror match.  Some time ago I was given a wooden form that the late Richard Walker used to make a fly rod.  I am now making a rod on this form with photos being taken at each stage.  This is to illustrate an article for a bimonthly magazine in the UK.  If the list wishes I can post some to the list showing planing on this type of form.  (Barry Grantham)


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